Kenya: Gender Bill Must Pass, Vow Women MPs

Some MPs hold a discussion during the debate on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2018 in the House on November 21, 2018.
22 November 2018

Nairobi — Women MPs have come out strongly to defend the Constitution Amendment Bill 2018 on the gender rule, saying it will not be used to bring 'slay queens' or girlfriends of the political class to Parliament as suggested by some male colleagues.

Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire and her counterpart Jennifer Shamalla warned their colleagues against calling women leaders 'slay queens' stating that it is disrespectful and demeaning to them.

Mbarire added that they were nominated because they demonstrated excellent leadership skills and not because they were anyone's 'slay queen.'

"I want to tell my friends that they should not use such dehumanizing and demeaning words to refer to women leaders. We are not here because we were anyone's 'slay queen' but rather because we worked hard and proved to our political parties that we deserved the nomination," she said.

Nyandarua Woman Representative Faith Gitau said the bill is not about the women but will cover all the marginalised groups including people with disability, the youth and the ethnic minorities.

"This bill Mr speaker is not about women and I urge our male colleagues and those who are opposing it to be open minded. In few years to come the male gender may be less in this same Parliament and the two thirds gender rule will also apply and I promise we will support them so just because it is women who need extra seats now does not mean the men will never require nominations. Therefore, I urge them to support it," Gitau stated.

On her part, Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris called on male MPs to pass the bill reminding them that it is not about women but a constitutional right which they need to accept and if it fails, the House risks dissolution.

"I am shocked that some of our colleagues and especially male colleagues are still thinking that the bill is about us the women. We all know that we need to pass this bill because it is a constitutional requirement. We are in contempt of a court order for failing to pass it in 2015, and I pray that if this bill fails to pass this time round, the Judiciary sends us all home," Passaris said.

The MPs are still divided on whether to support the bill and it is now a matter of time to see how things unfold when they vote next week on Tuesday.

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